Meet another member of South Florida's many-sided faith community. This week we're talking with the Rev. George Pulos of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Davie.
Q: How do you prepare for Easter?
A: One, I get a lot of rest (laughs). It's a very busy time.
Q: Why did the two churches, Gloria Dei and St. Mark's, merge?
A: It was out of the realization that we could do a better witness for Christ as one larger congregation than as two struggling congregations. St. Mark's was in neighborhood affected by high unemployment and high crime. Cars were stolen or vandalized during night services. Our leaders were looking at closing or moving or merging. The merger took place in August 2011.
Q: How has your job changed since then?
A: We're expanding our mission outreach to Nova Southeastern University and to Haiti. And with a program called Blessings in a Backpack, helping children at Davie Elementary School. We fill backpacks with food every week. so that children who receive meals from school all week have a full meal for the weekend. Then they bring the packs back to us on Monday. Then we fill them and give them back on Friday.
Q: Is it hard for Lutherans -- who come from Germany and Scandinavia -- to minister in South Florida?
A: Oh, no. Christ's mandate is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. We have families from Jamaica, Haiti, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico. The ships have stopped coming from Germany, but the planes are coming to Florida from all over the world.
Q: How do you like to relax?
A: Spending time with kids and wife. I like to play with them in backyard, read to them, vacation with them. We just came back from Wyoming. I went sledding and had snowball fights with my kids.
Q: What book have you been recommending lately?
A: John Grisham's "The Testament." It's been out awhile, but it's a perspective of life about what is important in the here and now.
Q: How about a favorite film?
A: My all-time favorite is "The Wizard of Oz." It shows that what people seek the most is what what they have in their own backyard. And people's weaknessess often turn out to be their greatest strengths.
Q: Favorite music? Favorite performer(s)?
A: Judy Garland was one of my favorite vocalists. And I've always loved music by Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.
Q: Do you have a treasured possession?
A: My mother's baptismal cross. It was made in Constantinople, where she was born and baptized. I wear it every day.
Q: Your most memorable spiritual experience?
A: When I knew that I knew that Christ is my Lord. That my sins were forgiven. That I'm a child of the living God.
Q: Your worst moment in the pulpit?
A: It wasn't in the pulpit but at a wedding. Two of the groom's men fainted. As they fell, they knocked over the flower arrangements. It was a domino effect.
Q: Any advice you'd give for others considering the vocation?
A: Be sure that it's God doing the calling and not just themselves. Life throws a lot of curves. One moment you're planning a dinner; another, a friend is going through a divorce.
Q: What one thing would you change about yourself?
A: I'd probably slow down behind the steering wheel. At times I have a lead foot. As a police chaplain, I don't want have to answer to a state trooper why I tend to go very fast.
Q: What's the most important thing you've ever learned?
A: When I was very young, my mom said to me: "Listen."
Q: When you feel down, how do you revive spiritually?
A: Believe it or not, I go to my son, who is 5 years old, and put him on my lap. This happened a week ago. I said, "Daniel, tell me something about Jesus." He said, "Jesus loves me so much, and he loves you, too."
Q: Motto, or favorite scripture verse?
A: Phil. 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." And my prayer request is Matt 6:33: "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."
More about Pulos
Title: Pastor at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Davie, with Rev. Tony Masinelli as senior pastor.
Other job experience: Former pastor of St. Mark's Lutheran Church, Hollywood; has also served at Christ the King, Miami; Trinity Lutheran, Miami-Dade; Holy Cross, North Miami.
Other community posts: Chaplain of Miami Police Department; a founding board member, Trinity International University's Miami campus; a founding board member, Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, Bannockburn, Ill.
Education: Degree in education and administration, Trinity International University; master's degree in divinity, education and theology, Concordia Seminary-St. Louis.
Personal: 54. Born inWashington, D.C.
Family: Married to Ginger, director of advancement, Divine Savior Lutheran Academy, Doral. Four children.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times